Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5.
Original title: Simon del Desierto
Mexico, 1965. Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Producción Cinematográfica. Story by Luis Bunuel, Screenplay by Luis Bunuel, Julio Alejandro. Cinematography by Gabriel Figueroa. Produced by Gustavo Alatriste. Music by Raul Lavista. Film Editing by Carlos Savage.
Luis Bunuel was a filmmaker of such power that even when making a 45-minute feature, he could still pack quite a lot of power into the experience. It’s a sardonic look at the fourth century ascetic of the title, who deprived himself of all worldly pleasures by living atop a stone tower in the middle of the desert for six years, six months and six days. He is venerated by all as a saint, but at the same time is constantly tormented by Satan in the form of Silvia Pinal, who dances around dressed like a little girl (in sexy garters), appears as a bare-breasted goddess and as a bearded shepherd. In the end she takes him to a modern discotheque where she delivers the ultimate temptation of modern-day living, in a touch of brilliant surrealism that only Bunuel could pull off so smoothly. It’s a terrific look at religious fanaticism with just the right blend of admiration and ridicule, and its perfect direction and photography contribute to its effect.